Bhakti, a term ubiquitous in the religious life of South Asia, has meanings that shift dramatically according to context and sentiment. Sometimes translated as “personal devotion,” bhakti nonetheless implies and fosters public interaction. It is often associated with the marginalized voices of women and lower castes, yet it has also played a role in perpetuating injustice. Barriers have been torn down in the name of bhakti, while others have been built simultaneously.
Bhakti and Power provides an accessible entry into key debates around issues such as these, presenting voices and vignettes from the sixth century to the present and from many parts of India’s cultural landscape. Written by a wide range of engaged scholars, this volume showcases one of the most influential concepts in Indian history—still a major force in the present day.
Bhakti in Indian vernaculars is not merely individual devotion, but an act of public participation, in some cases even a 'movement'— deeply implicated in the discourse of power in an nterrogative as well as affirmative way. This collection makes a very thought-provoking and much needed contribution to the study of this aspect of bhakti.
Purushottam Agrawal, Author, Padmavat: An Epic Love Story; former Chairperson, Centre of Indian Languages, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)
This fine collection of essays examines the complex relationship between Bhakti and power. The variant articulations refer to some teachings as alternatives to existing ones, or some as protests, and others as supportive of power. A study such as this implicitly nudges us to reconsider our typologies of Bhakti.
Romila Thapar, author of The Past before Us: Historical Traditions of Early North India
A welcome addition to the field of bhakti studies, South Asian devotionalisms, and South Asian religions and comparative religions more broadly.
Ramya Sreenivasan, associate professor, South Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania
An important contribution to the historiographical issues regarding bhakti and the arena of bhakti studies.
Srilata Raman, author of Self-Surrender to God in Srivaisnavism: Tamil Cats and Sanskit Monkeys